We all have busy lives. Some days we get worn out and have no energy left for anything enjoyable. This can occasionally include spending time with our dogs.
I have this issue from time to time as well, but I don’t let it get me down when I can’t give my dogs all the attention they want. There are a few things that I do that help them pass the time when I am feeling under the weather or feeling tired or even at times lazy and just want to do nothing (which is OK to do once in a while by the way).
Dogs are extremely adaptable even though they are creatures of habit. That’s what I love about them. They are usually just happy to be with you no matter what you are doing.
Number One: I do spontaneous five minute training sessions. Even if I am feeling lousy I can usually manage some of these. I always make sure to have small jars of food rewards around the house in convenient locations. I make sure they are in easy to grab places and that there are a lot of them.
Right now we have five glass jars for this purpose in different place around the house. I also have two food reward bags that I keep ready to use so if we go outside I can take one with me. This is crucial especially if you have a puppy.
Spontaneous training sessions are very useful, because they are like pop quizzes for the dog. Fun pop quizzes. Challenging your dog at different times of the day makes for good learning. Training also helps tire your dog out mentally and keeps him wondering what you will do next.
The most important thing is to be prepared in case you need to do this. Having the food rewards ready is the most difficult part. If you have to get everything ready when you are tired, you likely won’t do it.
Number Two: If I’m cooking, I have the dogs with me in the kitchen and throw them pieces of what I am cooking, like vegetables or small pieces of cooked meat if there is any. This is especially good for “long duration” down training. This way I can be with them but not really actively working with them. They can nap or pay attention and I can get necessary work done.
Number Three: I use stuffed Kongs. This is good for quiet times. They don’t have to be large ones, just enough to keep them busy for a small amount of time. This usually ends in a nap as well.
Number Four: If I’m cleaning the house, I move the dogs around between rooms and reward them for just being there. This is a good way to practice directional cues. The dogs need to respond to which direction I need them to go. They learn something and I get something done. Moving the dogs from room to room if you are sweeping or mopping for example can work for this.
Number Five: Luckily I don’t go out to work and I don’t often go anywhere for any length of time without taking them with me. Most of the time I can talk to the dogs while working on the computer and occasionally keep them busy doing something while I work.
Number Six: I schedule time to spend with the dogs. This is really the only way things get done around here on a regular basis. So if there is one day that we don’t really do anything at all for one of the above reasons, it is no big deal – because we did stuff every other day for the last three weeks.
It Works Well For Us
Doing things this way, the dogs learn that they get to do something fun eventually, like if I am working with only one of the dogs. The others learn that their turn will come soon.
Most of the time, the dogs will just relax while I’m doing something anyway. But with an active puppy, we do have to do more active things more often during the day. This helps all of us, and I make an effort to get up more and move around more. This helps get me into the habit of moving rather than sitting.
Of course, sitting at a computer for work makes it easier to get up and do something because you get tired and stiff, but sometimes you still need that acquired habit to get you going.
So in general I do have time to spend with them and get the things done for them that need to get done.
Not all the dogs get an on leash walk everyday, but everyone gets to do SOMETHING interesting during the day. This is the most important thing. Even more important is that you (and I) don’t worry if we miss keeping the dog(s) active on a day. No one is perfect. You can’t do everything exactly right every time.